Where to begin?! I have been brainstorming topics to share with you all about our experience as expats living in China. One moment I feel like I have a million ideas, and the next I feel like I don't know what to talk about. This has been an amazing experience for us so far, and I know there is lot that I can share. So I'm just going to take this one step at a time.
My first topic... FAMILY
|Our first Chinese New Year in China|
The "One Child" Rule
This is still alive and well in China for the most part. From what I have been told by my Chinese Ayi (Chinese for "Auntie"... our Ayi is our housekeeper), the rural parts of China do not fall under the same rules. There, you are likely to find families with more than one child. In the cities we leave near, however, it is quite rare to have more than one child. If you have a second child without being granted permission, you will not be issued an ID card allowing your child to enroll in school or into the workforce. So it is a pretty hefty penalty! HOWEVER, you can petition to the government for a second child, and possibly be granted the approval. Our driver told me that his wife would love to have a second child. So now, he must work. Meaning... if he can save up enough money, only then could he go to the government and have a chance at being approved for a second child. Wealthy families, therefor, are allowed to have more than one child. Rural families are allowed to have more than one child, and anyone married to a foreigner is allowed to have more than one child.
|Outside the foreign goods market|
I never thought too much about the idea of the one-child rule until we had been in China for a few months. Our family structure is SO different from the Chinese families around us. We don't only stand out because of our light hair... we stand out because we have THREE children running along-side us! The three children are pointed out ALL of the time! "San ga!" with three fingers in the air is heard every time we are out, which translates to "three (children)". In this part of China, we are quite the spectacle!
|My children surrounded by curious Chinese people also spending the day at the beach.|
We are out enjoying time as a family of five, perhaps to the park, or walking back home after enjoying dinner together. Two adults, three children. We are surrounded by Chinese families, consisting of two adults, two or more grandparents, and ONE child! In most Chinese homes, the mother and father work, and the grandparents (sometimes all four of them) share the task of caring for the child. So one child has potentially SIX adults assigned to them, no siblings to play with, no aunts or uncles, and no cousins! All six adults dedicated to that one child! It is fairly common to see grandparents out and about with a child during the day, and they are usually the ones that take young children to and from school. The number of children you see on a regular day is always greatly outnumbered by the adults.
|Ping Pong Games at the mall draws quite a crowd!|
|My three kiddos at the pet market, picking out pets.|
|You can only guess what the Chinese men are thinking about all of these blond kids eating ice cream on a cold day!|
The Boys vs. Girls
So why would the Chinese people prefer boys over girls? I always assumed that boys were preferred because they would stay with their parents and care for them in their old age, while the girls would eventually marry and leave their families. That doesn't seem to be "the way of things" here, as many families seem to be equally involved with the parents on both sides.
|My son and our driver's son, ready to play badminton with the dads|
|In the first months in China, Tatum was happy to pose for pictures, as often requested.|
As a Parent
One day I was reflecting on the one-child ruling from a personal standpoint. What if I was told that I was only allowed to have one child? I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a mom, and three children seemed like the perfect number. I think I would have a deep longing for more children if I was limited to having only one. I am sure that many people here in China must feel the same way. It makes me sad knowing that that is not an option for them.
|Enjoying an evening in Beijing with friends, eating REAL Cold Stone ice cream!|
An anonymous comment below suggested that the Chinese couples that each come from a single-child family are allowed to have two children. I hadn't heard this, but was quite curious to find out if that was true. Sure enough, my driver confirmed that was true. He and his wife are not allowed to have two children because his wife happens to have a sister. The same goes for my ayi, who came from a rural part of China and has a brother and a sister. So she also was only allowed to have one child. When I asked my ayi if she longed for more than one child, she laughed... suggesting that it wasn't even something she considered due to the great cost of already having one son.
Thanks for all of the fabulous feedback you have shared. I am so thrilled that many people are interested in learning about our experiences here in China. I have a list of topics a mile long that I will be putting on my blog in the upcoming months.... so stay tuned. Anything of particular interest, please feel free to send me a note. I'd be happy to find out more for you about the Chinese culture. Considering that I now have a handful of Chinese friends here, I can easily get the answers I'm looking for too!
I'm not an expert on China, and the stories that I share here are based on my own personal experiences and the things I have learned speaking with others in China. China is a very large and culturally diverse country, so you may find that the traditions and "way" of things in parts of China outside of where we are living are quite different.